"Au Coin du Feu" is, Gentle Reader, a quaint yet pretty French expression meaning something like fireplace or a pleasantly warm place to gather. "Coin" of course is corner, so Your Humble Correspondent rather would translate this as "a warm nook".
Finding a quiet corner in the hustle and bustle of Naka-Meguro is never an easy thing, although it should be said that the culinary excellence of Daikanyama seems to be flowing downhill pushed no doubt by the over-development in that part of town. And the footpaths ....
A number of restaurants in this part of Tokyo have been on YHC's 'regulars' list for some time: including Sourire, Higashiyama, AW Kitchen, Ange d'Azur, Rue de Shuri ...... and Baird's bar, of course. As the demographics of the area change reflecting the younger people moving closer to town, we can expect this trend towards culinary concentration to continue.
Be that as it may, Au Coin du Feu ingratiates itself on you with excellent service, deft cooking, and a very pleasant focus on the customer experience. Somehow, it keeps finding places to push and nudge much like a small dragon wanting its belly scratched. Somehow - despite the onerous company of many "Ladies who Dine" OL's at surrounding tables - one feels a certain sort of "at-home"-ness and a casual yet warm acquaintance with Chef Jun Yamaguchi and his sommelier wife Sachiko.
The menu changes reasonably often, although the strong recommendation is to go with the set menus - that way, you can leave the intellectual heavy lifting to the Yamaguchi's and concentrate on flavors, favours, and friendship. There is both art and artifice in the food at Au Coin du Feu, as well as joy and playfulness.
While there is a certain bistro atmosphere - did you know, perchance, that the word 'bistro' is actually Russian for "Quick!" and that some believe its introduction as a description of a dining establishment came with the 1915 Russian occupation of Paris - there is also a strong sense of a restaurant's finer sense of place and purpose. Restaurant, on the other hand, was originally a type of wonderful (restoring) Parisian consomme soup first served in 1765 that was immediately popular and copied by everyone.
One hastens to add that the wine list is both interesting and very politely priced. Many of the better known French appellations are well represented, and the advice is always to the point and simple to understand.
All that said, Your Humble Correspondent recommends a detour to Au Coin au Feu at your next opportunity. Take along people you don't need to impress - that way you can delight in companionship rather than joust for attention.
And should you see a querulous face peering through the window, pray forgive me! I won't bite ....
Au Coin du Feu: 2-7-2 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku Tel/Fax: 03-6412-8212
Rating: Food: 7/10; Warmth: 8/10; Service: 8/10; Ambiance: 7/10; Price-Performance: 7/10. Total: 37/50 (3 Forks)